David E. Murphy

David E. Murphy died 28 August 2014. See Steve Vogel, "David Murphy, Soviet Ops Chief at CIA, Dies," Washington Post, 9 Sep. 2014.

Murphy, David E.

1. "The Hunt for Sasha Is Over." CIRA Newsletter 25, no. 3 (Fall 2000): 11-15.

Materials in Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Sword and the Shield (1999) identify "Sasha" as Aleksandr Grigoryevich Kopatzky, a Russian emigre who was recruited by the KGB in 1949. Murphy doubts the accuracy of Andrew's description of Kopatzky as "the most important American agent recruited (by the KGB) during the early Cold War."

2. "Sasha Who?" Intelligence and National Security 8, no. 1 (Jan. 1993), reprinted in CIRA Newsletter 18, no. 3 (Autumn 1993), pp. 21-25.

Murphy concludes that Golitsyn's "Sasha" was a U.S. Army major identified by Kochnov in 1966.


Murphy, David E. "Spies in Berlin: A Hidden Key to the Cold War." Foreign Affairs 77, no. 4 (Jul.-Aug. 1998): 171-178.

In the initial period after the end of the war, U.S. intelligence was scant and had little access to the military commander. The remnant intelligence activity left behind after the OSS was disbanded became the CIA's Berlin operations base after 1947. One area of particular intelligence interest dealt with the Soviet Union's interest in East German uranium and manufactured products to support its use. Over time, the attitude toward the Soviet Union by the U.S. leadership in Berlin became less benign.

"By the time the blockade began in June 1948,... [CIA reports had] produced a picture of the highest policy significance for those making decisions about the American response." Similarly, "intelligence during the blockade reinforced the estimate that the Russians would not risk war to force the Western allies from Berlin as long as the allies stood firm."

Meanwhile, "Soviet intelligence was turning out superb, timely reporting.... [H]owever, such information seems to have had surprisingly little effect on Stalin and Molotov.... Unquestionably, the most important failure of Soviet intelligence was its inability to convey the plans for the airlift and properly evaluate the operation's prospects for success."


Murphy, David E. What Stalin Knew: The Enigma of Barbarossa. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005.

DKR, AFIO WIN 26-05 (11 Jul. 2005), finds that the author "argues that Stalin knew virtually everything about what Hitler was doing in the months leading up to the Nazi invasion." Stalin's reaction was to denounce the available "intelligence as Western disinformation.... Murphy has written a carefully researched and insightful account of one of the great intel fiascoes."

For Bath, NIPQ 21.3 (Sep. 2005), "[t]his carefully researched and well documented work is probably the best explanation that we are likely to get of one of the major questions surrounding the Second World War." Blank, Parameters, Spring 2006, calls Murphy's work "essential reading." Soybel, I&NS 21.3 (Jun. 2006), sees What Stalin Knew as "a wonderful synthesis of the situation in 1941 and of the information to which Stalin had access."

Peake, CIRA Newsletter 30.4 (Winter 2005) and IJI&C 19.2 (Summer 2006), comments that "[w]hat makes Murphey's approach original is the emphasis he places on the role of intelligence." He "shows in well documented detail that the warning intelligence [the Soviet intelligence] services provided prior to Barbarossa was timely and accurate."

To Steury, Studies 50.1 (Mar. 2006), the author's "contribution is virtually unique.... Whereas other historians have looked at Stalin's actions and sought the reasoning behind them, Murphy examines the intelligence received by Stalin.... [He] massively documents the in-pouring of intelligence from all over Europe and even Japan, warning of the German military buildup for invasion.... If one were looking for fault in Murphy's analysis, one might accuse him of too uncritically accepting all the intelligence provided to Stalin as warning of the German attack.... Yet, there can be no doubt that Murphy is correct both in detail and in the sum and substance of his argument: Stalin was well-served by his intelligence departments. The responsibility for ignoring that intelligence was his and his alone."

From the viewpoint of Pringle, IJI&C 19.4 (Winter 2006-2007), Murphy "presents a mosaic of Soviet intelligence reporting found in no other work of Western scholarship." Some of the information provided "is truly enlightening, and changes scholarly understanding of German disinformation and how it influenced Soviet policy."


Murphy, David E., Sergei A. Kondrashev, and George Bailey. Battleground Berlin: CIA vs. KGB in the Cold War. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997.

Clark comment: Murphy is a former chief of the CIA Berlin Base and later headed Soviet operations at CIA Headquarters. Kondrashev is a retired KGB lieutenant general and headed the KGB's German Department. Bailey is a journalist and former director of Radio Liberty. Is this the final word on the Cold War as fought over, around, and in Berlin? Probably not, but we are unlikely to get a view from a more intimate standpoint. There are 57 pages of notes that bear out a conclusion that these are more than the meanderings of two old Cold Warriors.

From the "Preface": "Our goal has ... been ambitious: to provide never-before-seen documentary evidence of what each side knew during the crises, and to give readers a sense of what it was like to face off with an intelligence foe in Cold War Berlin."

Cohen, FA 76.6 (Nov.-Dec. 1997), notes that Battleground Berlin "covers primarily the grim glory days of the Cold War in Berlin -- the period up to the building of the Berlin Wall." Although this "is a major contribution to the intelligence history of the Cold War," the book has a number of gaps; and "Bailey's efforts to reconcile his coauthors' views of reality do not always succeed."

McGehee, in cloaks-and-daggers@maelstrom.stjohns.edu, says that "the book is laden with details that are difficult to follow as they swing from the CIA operational stories to the KGBers focus on political intelligence about postwar Germany. The authors unsuccessfully juxtaposition their stories, adding to the difficulties in comprehension and interest." In addition, the claims advanced as to the value of the Berlin Tunnel "seem overblown but a definitive appraisal is impossible."

The Publishers Weekly, 21 Jul. 1997, reviewer calls the book "a crucial addition to filling an important gap in our understanding of the Cold War. The book is not only authoritative, it is also well written and possesses the qualities of a very engaging espionage novel." In the same vein, Friend, History 26.3, calls Battleground Berlin "sober, authoritative, unsensational, documented, and revelatory."

For Bates, NIPQ, 14.3, a downside of the book "is the massive amount of detail." Nevertheless, the narrative fleshes out the history of the Cold War in Berlin "with a mass of heretofore-untold facts.... Another plus for Battleground Berlin is the detailed discussion of CIA and KGB tradecraft." Adams, IJI&C 12.1, sees this as "an unusual and very important volume ... [that] is illuminating on a number of levels."

The review by Jeffreys-Jones, I&NS 13.4, reads a bit haughty for my taste. Although he grants that they provide "balanced accounts of some significant episodes,... some interesting details ... [and l]ittle glimpses ... of characters," the reviewer takes the authors to task for being "historical amateurs." He finds particular fault with the absence in the book of "historical context" for the events they are relating. Welcome to the real world, Jeffreys-Jones.

Powers, NYRB (23 Oct. 1997) and Intelligence Wars (2004), 141-158, sees Battleground Berlin as "a fascinating and important account of the opening campaigns of the secret cold war waged by the CIA and the KGB.... Anyone interested in just how complex a counterintelligence case can become should read the fourteen pages in which Battleground Berlin lays out the intricate web of what was known to whom, through which channels," as the KGB closed in on Col. Pyotr Popov. See also, William Drozdiak, "Rival Spies Relive Thrills of Cold War," Washington Post, 21 Oct. 1997, A16.

[CIA/Overviews, 50s/Gen & Tunnel; GenPostwar/CW]


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